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Can I Invalidate My Will By Burning It?

On Behalf of | Sep 15, 2022 | Estate Planning |

There may come a time when new circumstances arise, your last wishes change and you need to make alterations to your will. In some cases, there might be so many changes to make that the easiest thing to do is start over from scratch and get rid of the old will entirely.

You can revoke a will by burning it in Maryland

But is that easier said than done? Luckily, there’s a sweet and simple answer, and it’s not as complicated as you may have feared: Yes, you can. Sadly, the same can’t be said about all other parts of estate planning.

In the state of Maryland, one way to legally revoke your last will and testament is simply to burn it. This act of burning or otherwise destroying the document must be done by the testator or someone else under their direction.

The officially listed methods of destroying a last will and testament are:

  • Obliterating
  • Tearing
  • Canceling
  • Burning

It’s important to keep in mind that in the state of Maryland, a handwritten will is only recognized if it was made by someone who serves in one of the armed services of the U.S. The document must also be signed somewhere outside the United State or U.S. territories. This type of will can also be invalidated by burning it.

Don’t leave any part unburnt

One important part is to make sure your will has been completely destroyed. If there are any discernable elements that remain once you’ve put out the flame, the intentionality of the will’s destruction may be called into question later down the line. In that case, it’s up to the court to decide if the partially burned document.

Commonly, a will is revoked when a testator enters into a marriage or becomes a parent, regardless of whether they are children by birth, legitimization. But there may come a time when you want to have your will revoked at a time when none of these life-changing events are occurring. Burning your old will is a quick and easy method of accomplishing this.